Go on a beautiful voyage into the unknown with Verreciel

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Verreciel (iOS) BY DEVINE LU LINVEGA Verreciel is the latest entry in Devine Lu Linvega’s “sequence of linguistically involved projects,” which includes Paradise (2011), Hiversaires (2013), and Oquonie (2014). Verreciel has you explore various star systems by connecting the consoles that surround you inside your Glass Ship. As you navigate outer space, you follow simple missions: harvesting currencies and trading them for warp keys to new locations. It’s a game about mastering the mechanical intricacies of travel, which echoes Linvega’s latest life choice to live on a boat and sail the world. Linvega’s…


A spy thriller that you play by using your ears

The screen blinks. Instructions arrive. “Plug in your headphones, put away your device, and listen up…if you hear static, you’ve gone too far.” HATFinder (2015) is a mobile-based spy game that’s not played on the screen. The initial instruction screen is the one and only time you’ll see anything on your phone. The rest of the time it’s played with your ears. Under the backdrop of a missing agent, it’s your role as a spy to investigate what happened. In short, the game is a sound-based scavenger hunt. While navigating a physical space—the game is specifically designed to be played…

Sara and Death

Philosophical mobile game reimagines Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Rocco Salvetti might be not your typical videogame maker. After studying philosophy, he decided he wanted a new adventure in IT. “I had a good job, but curiosity took over. I left and started all over,” he said. He moved from Italy to England, finding in London the right place to settle down and to run away from the stillness of small towns: “I need a massive city not to get depressed and it has been four years now, maybe I should consider Tokyo.” It is this hunger for more that describes Sara, Salvetti’s alter ego, and the protagonist of his game Sara and Death. Available…

Bad Corgi

Bad Corgi lets you run wild as a mischievous dog

If you only know corgis as those cute dogs from the internet, Cowboy Bebop, or movies where someone visits Buckingham Palace, you might not know that the tail-less fuzzballs are actually bred for herding cattle. Having grown up with corgis as household pets, their herding instincts are often present, even in the absence of farm animals. When I’d attempt to slowly pull my car into the garage, there was typically a corgi blocking my path as if it wasn’t my turn to park. If I’d walk around the house barefoot, often one of the dogs would nip at my ankles…

Emoji Poetry

Emoji Poetry is the literature class you never had

There’s an almost magical quality about tweets by Carrie Fisher, which probably half stems from the fact that I usually have no idea what she’s saying: her tweets are almost entirely in emoji, indiscernible like some new art form that I’m not cultured enough to understand. And with the rise of emojis changing the way we communicate for various mediums, I imagine that my confusion around their growing usage isn’t going to go anywhere. In comes developer Arzamas OOO’s new smartphone app, Emoji Poetry, a literary game where you drag the “appropriate” emoji into the empty spaces of a popular…

Infinite Arms

Infinite Arms aims to make the toy game adult-friendly

When Activision’s Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure first launched in 2011, it resonated with older kids by balancing the act of imagination with the act of playing a videogame. While it was more structured than a more free-form toy like Legos, Skylanders created the illusion that, by placing plastic figurines on a light-up pedestal, players could bring inanimate objects to life. Adults didn’t understand this. As an added bonus for Activision, this was a natural point of entry into the toy industry, and the ability to bolster sales with a physical product line was something that everyone from Nintendo to Lego would…

peter panic

Broadway comes to videogames in Peter Panic

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Peter Panic (iOS) ADULT SWIM GAMES The musicals of Broadway permeate Peter Panic. Not only is the game about restoring a small town theater, it features a full score by award-winning concert composer Benjamin Bonnema, and also stars a voice cast of actual Broadway talent. It is also a musical itself. You play as aspiring director Peter as he hops around the local businesses to get funding for the defunct theater of his childhood town. Conversation is sung with arms and mouths stretched wide. Once…

The Swords

Practice patience with painterly, puzzle-like swordplay

The format of a mobile game is pretty well-honed by now. From Super Hexagon (2012) to Crossy Road (2014), the games we play on our phones are (for the most part) broken up into short-and-sweet attempts to break high scores. When they were new, maybe we imagined spending more time in waiting rooms than we actually do, but now we seem to be able to find a lot of time for these bite-sized bursts of game. However, a new game from Lee-Kuo Chen and Sunhead Games—creators of A Ride into the Mountains (2013)—called The Swords, doesn’t totally line up with this mobile design paradigm. While…


Let Tomb of the Mask consume you with its frantic death chase

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. Tomb of the Mask (iOS) HAPPYMAGENTA Tomb of the Mask brings a new perspective to the arcade game, both literally and figuratively. Combining classic Tetris (1984) and Pac-Man (1980) aesthetics, Tomb of the Mask places you in a vertically scrolling gauntlet where the goal is to eat dots and coins while the ever-present threat of an encroaching death screen threatens from below if you don’t move upwards fast enough. You can latch onto any wall in the procedurally-generated arena which, in combination with your unstoppable momentum, creates most of the game’s challenge. Along the…